The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

The Forgotten War

Oct 12, 2009

With the U.S. news media focusing increasingly on the wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the war in Iraq has practically disappeared from view. But the Iraq war is far from over.

A few U.S. troops are leaving now with tens of thousands scheduled to leave next year. But by even the U.S.’s most optimistic projections, by the end of 2011, 50,000 U.S. troops will remain in Iraq. These troops are not supposed to be patrolling or engaging in combat. They are only supposed to be “advisors”–just like what U.S. troops in Viet Nam were called before the U.S. government was ready to admit that U.S. forces were fighting a war.

The U.S. is reducing its forces in a country it has largely destroyed. A big part of the Iraqi population is still dispersed, living as refugees. Most have little or no clean water, nor electricity or functioning sewers.

To keep the population under control, the U.S. has adopted a divide and conquer strategy. It has purposely played upon the tensions between different leaders and different parts of the population that fed into a civil war and ethnic cleansing. This civil war continues and the situation remains explosive.

To impose order, as the U.S. withdraws some of its troops, it has been trying to build up the Iraqi armed forces. It is also continuing to maintain a force of military contract personnel that is almost equal in size to the number of U.S. soldiers in the country. And a larger proportion of the contractors are now performing armed security and combat duties rather than non-combat jobs like constructing buildings, doing laundry or preparing food that they did previously. The U.S. is also converting some of its private military contractors to civilian employees of the U.S. State Department. As such, they are no longer counted as military contractors, even though they are performing the same duties.

So as more and more U.S. combat troops are withdrawn from Iraq, it still maintains a huge armed force that continues killing Iraqis. The only difference is that the people doing the killing are less likely to be U.S. soldiers and more likely to be private U.S. contractors or Iraqi troops armed and trained by the U.S.

Either way, the Iraqi people are still being brutalized and murdered in a bloody war, and it is still the U.S. that is behind much of the violence and killing.